Elitch Gardens and the art collective Meow Wolf have joined forces to bring a weird new world to Denver’s center city amusement park: Kaleidoscape, a slow-moving tour of a trippy art space. The new attraction, a revamp of the Scooby-Doo-styled Ghost Blasters, is officially ready for Elitch’s first guests of the season.
Ghost Blasters’ track, cars and space are all still the same, but the environment has been dramatically changed into an odd, glowing universe befitting Meow Wolf’s flagship Santa Fe exhibit.
On the way in, there’s a robot and video explainer that sets Kaleidoscape in the realm of some kind of (doughnut-shaped) quantum multiverse situation. There’s something about a “cosmic egg” and “q-particles” that you can shoot with laser guns – it’s enough to set the stage, but I’ll leave it up to you to determine what the story is, exactly.
Matt King, a Meow Wolf co-founder and co-lead on the ride’s development, said he and his colleagues have been wanting to make a “dark ride” for a long while. But while the look and feel fits well within their stylistic canon, he said the concept behind this attraction is new for them. The meandering car on the track was an opportunity to play in a new immersive medium.
“What we typically do is create environments that are free for exploration, so there are no maps, there’s no one telling you what to do, how to experience it,” he said. “A dark ride is the complete opposite. You’re in, and we have your attention to really take you through a linear story.”
Reanna Reynolds and her family won a chance to sneak-preview Kaleidoscape through Denver’s KS 107.5 FM, and got to ride it a couple times in a row. Everyone enjoyed the weird trip. She rated it a “12 out of 10.”
The 14-year-old said she’d heard of Meow Wolf before, but only knew a little bit about it. Her experience Friday sealed the deal: She likes what the art collective is all about, and now she’s pretty excited for their full-scale arrival in 2020.
Kaleidoscape, for sure, is a new canvas for the artists to fill. But King said young Reynold’s reaction also demonstrates one of this installation’s goals: suck more people into the Meow Wolf orbit. He hopes the ride will help amp people up for the Denver exhibit’s opening and lure them down to Santa Fe.
The ride’s novelty could be a draw for Elitch’s, too. Spokeswoman Jolie DuBois said the park’s stakeholders are hoping Meow Wolf’s presence will broaden their audience this summer, which usually hits about 1 million people per season but is mostly marketed toward families.
It’s already making some waves, she said. Folks at the park were proud that Kaleidoscape made the LA Times’ top 10 list of new attractions, recognized alongside massive rollercoasters and the likes of Star Wars and Mickey Mouse.